Tailoring evidence-based psychological therapY for People with common mental disorder including Psychotic EXperiences

What is this study?

Too many people with common mental health problems, such as depression or anxiety, do not recover after receiving talking therapy. People usually receive cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), delivered by Improving Access to Psychological Therapy (IAPT) services, also called psychological well-being services. Some people who do not get better can experience more severe forms of common mental health problems including psychotic experiences such as paranoia or hearing voices.

About one-in-five people in the UK using IAPT services have some psychotic experiences, often after traumatic events. Currently, IAPT services do not support these people particularly well. In some cases, they are referred to specialist ‘early-intervention’ psychosis services. These specialist services tend to focus on psychotic experiences and the risk of people developing more severe mental health conditions such as schizophrenia. This is despite the fact that the vast majority of people who have psychotic experiences do not develop schizophrenia. In addition, such services do not usually address the depression, anxiety, and other problems that often affect this group of people.

The University of Cambridge and Cambridge and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust have received funding from the National Institute for Health Research for a five-year study. The study will involve the use of a brief questionnaire to help identify people using IAPT services with psychotic experiences. The study aims to use research evidence and the views shared by service-users and IAPT therapists to develop an enhanced therapists’ training programme so people accessing the service who have additional symptoms are better supported to achieve recovery.

Why is this research important?

People who have psychotic experiences in addition to their depression and anxiety are less likely to recover. This study will provide therapists with a training programme to better support the needs of this group. The talking therapy will be offered to service-users in IAPT settings,  making it more accessible and less stigmatising than specialist mental health services. Overall, this work should help IAPT service-users. It will also support IAPT services to achieve their challenging performance targets, and provide a blueprint for testing other therapies beyond the current CBT offered.

How long will the project run?

The project started on 1st February 2018 and is expected to run for 5 years until 2023.